Plot: Robotic aliens with the power to transform into man-made vechicles land on Earth and attempt to battle one another for an all-powerful cube. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and other humans are stuck in-between as Optimus Prime leads the Autobots against Megatron and the Decepticons. Who’s it for: If you don’t know what Autobots and Decepticons are, you might want to avoid this summer blockbuster. Otherwise, this big-budget bonanza is for you … especially if you’re currently a teenage boy.
Expectations: “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers” were can’t-miss cartoons for me growing up, so I was pretty excited for this film. My only worry is that no blockbuster has met my expectations this summer.
Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky: Once again, LaBeouf proves to be the best young actor out there. His short, quick delivery of basic dialogue makes the first half of the film work, and for a while it looked like he would upstage the special effects of the Transformers. Grade: 9
Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes: Fox does a fantastic job of … well, being a fox. She’s very hot and Sam is completely correct in his high school crush of Mikaela. They toss in that’s she’s an accidental bad girl and it’s a little excessive, though. Grade: 7
Josh Duhamel as Sergeant Lennox: Lennox is our soldier hero, but we don’t see him nearly enough to feel any emotional connection. He does have a cool sliding kill from a motorcycle though, which is definitely his high point in the film. Grade: 6
Rest of cast: John Turturro is definitely going to turn some people off in this film. He plays the campy Agent Simmons and overdoes every single scene, but it works for me. So Anthony Anderson and Bernie Mac. The only one that I could have done without was Jon Voight, who I think was doing a bad Dick Cheney impression. Grade: 8
Talking: Bringing back Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, was the only logical choice. And thankfully, they did it. LaBeouf was zipping one-liners with whoever was opposite him, and made the first half of the film surprisingly funny. In fact, the light-hearted parts worked much better than the serious military attempt “Transformers” also went for. Grade: 7
Sights and sounds: The first half of the film, it’s hard to tell if the special effects are mind-blowing. There’s a lot of SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome) and you rarely get a clear shot. But the second half of the film is dazzling. There are a few slow-motion shots that are like nothing we’ve seen before. With Michael Bay directing, once again we are subjected to slow motion walking and Bad Boys/The Rock/Armageddon music. It’s time he retired that technique, but otherwise this film is spectacular to watch. Bumblebee talking through songs on the radio was a nice twist. Grade: 8
Best scene: Even though the final battle was great, the light humor of Bumblebee trying to push Sam toward Mikaela was very amusing.
Ending: We’re left with a long speech from Optimus Prime after a 45-minute battle. Let me quickly sum up … we probably haven’t seen the last of the Decepticons.
Random thoughts: At one point Megatron was 10 feet away from Sam, and then suddenly Sam runs up 40 flights of stairs and gets away, that was odd.I also had a problem with the Transformers being able to switch vehicles if they wanted, but only Bumblebee decided to do it. I definitely needed more Starscream, but hopefully that will happen in the expected sequel.
Rewatchability: Yes and yes. Even though the film is about two hours and twenty minutes, it builds to the final battle in the city and you always feel like you haven’t seen enough.
Thank god this film was more than meets the eye. These robots were in the disguise of the best blockbuster this summer. “Transformers” is a teenage boy’s wet dream. The girls are insanely hot, the lead is awkward/funny and the action sequences are top notch. My complaints would be an overly repetitive plot, Optimus Prime being long-winded and the one Decepticon robot that looked like a cross between a Gremlin and Johnny No. 5, all of which will be forgiven by their core audience. I wish more films would attempt to go after a specific audience like “Transformers” did. Even though it’s Fourth of July and everybody loves to think they’ll spend tons of time outdoors, you should definitely “roll out” and see this film. OK, I think I squeezed all the “Transformers” catch phrases in there.
Overall Grade: 8